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  • SEWA Annual General Meeting 2014

  • Women's Voices on SEWA Micro Finance

  • His kind and caring face is unforgettable: Elaben Bhatt

No. 55 | January 2014
H2 Side SEWA Annual General Meeting 2014

The SEWA Annual General Meeting a two-day gathering of the SEWA elected representatives, leaders, committee members, campaign teams, spearhead teams and workers was held at its Manipur Campus on 7th and 8th January, 2014. This year the SEWA membership increased to 1.9 million members.

SEWA - All India Membership-2014

State Membership
Gujarat 10,00,224
Bihar 82,460
Delhi 40,010
West Bengal (Murshidabad only) 7,057
Rajasthan 37,000
Kerala 10,000
Uttrakhand 4,470
Madhya Pradesh 6,00,950
Uttar Pradesh 1,27,780
Maharashtra 4,500
Assam 1,613
Meghalaya 400
Kashmir 212
Total 19,16,676

Gujarat Membership - Rural & Urban of 2014

Main Categories of Workers No. of Women Percentage of Total Membership
Urban 4,17,685 41.76
Rural 5,82,539 58.24
Total 10,00,224 100

SEWA 2014

Shri Jyotiben, General Secretary of SEWA welcomed everyone present. She presented the Annual SEWA report as follows:

SEWA Urban: This year was full of struggle for SEWA Urban union. The effect of recession on various trades and its consequence on the lives of poor women workers was witnessed in the form of their reduced employment and income. With several developmental and renovation projects run across the city the livelihoods of several street vendors was hampered. Small factory workers too weren't spared from the ill effects of recession. The condition of waste recyclers further worsened in this year. Traditional waste pickers cooperative despite of offering competitive rates for their services were unable to receive any work. Due to privatization of Solid Waste Management lesser waste was found on the streets forcing the paper pickers to indulge in the business of clinical research. The question of registration of construction workers in the Welfare Board still lingered unanswered this year. In spite of cess collection of 800 crores with the Welfare Board the benefits could not reach the construction workers. Major changes were witnessed in the field of incense stick rolling wherein water-based incense sticks are now being made with the use of machines. Women are getting lesser work for oil based incense sticks due to which their businesses have suffered. Regardless of several setbacks adapting several strategies helped SEWA Urban Union rise to a membership of 382240 members. Similarly in the states of Bhavnagar and Surat the Union further developed and exhibited an increase of 50% and 200% respectively in its membership data.

This year witnessed several achievements derived through a lot of challenges:

  • 5000 head loaders and hand cart pullers witnessed an increase of 25 to 30% in their wages. This lead to an annual increase of Rs 7,80,00000 in the income of the workers.
  • A levy of 5 lakh rupees was being deposited by the owners in the welfare board. With SEWA's efforts this amount of 5 lakhs has now risen to 15 lakh rupees. This has change has happened after a gap of 30 years.
  • The annual turnover of SEWA's Rachaita Cooperative of Construction Workers was registered at Rs 1,10,0000. From this the monthly income of 605 construction workers increased from Rs 4800 to Rs 21000.
  • Waste recyclers were offered work in three slums.
  • The turnover of Geetanjali Paper Pickers Cooperative was registered at Rs 47,08,945. This cooperative supplied spring files to the biggest stationery company of the world known as Staples and worked for several other IT companies.
  • Bidi workers witnessed a price rise for the first time in several years. For 1000 bidis rolled now the workers are paid Rs 80 to 93 instead of Rs 12. This has increased their annual income by Rs 2,99,52,000. Due to the changes undertaken in the Government policies there has been retrieval in the scholarships being provided for the children of bidi workers.
  • Due to the inception of SEWA's thread shop in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad city, threads required for stitching were provided at nominal rates to the workers.
  • Due to renovation work in Bhadra area of Ahmedabad women street vendors lost out on their vending space during the peak season of Diwali. This resulted in formation of Bhadra Vechnar Mahila Bazaar.
  • Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act was passed in 2013.
  • The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation provided space beneath the Jamalpur overbridge for the vendors market as designed by the SEWA team.Here with included budgets for several such markets in its estimate report.
  • With the support of the police SEWA helped 120 street vendors of Kharikat canal in Naroda regain their vending space.
  • Through the year SEWA helped 1501 vendors restart employments worth Rs 9, 36,62,400.
  • Amongst the main achievements of the current year is revival of Urban Unorganized Labour Welfare Board. 4752 workers were registered with the welfare board.
  • Through the year the Urban Union registered employment worth Rs 16,59,74,660 through 5061 women and similarly income worth Rs 23,15,02,920 was generated by 86674 women.

SEWA Rural:

Emphasis was put on several major topics during the year. With challenges came opportunities as well. This year 3,03,378 women earned income of Rs 134,56,49,837. Ownership of 85505 women increased resulting in earnings worth Rs 49,72,27,379. 13900 children joined BalSEWA. 2,16,776 women received education through several training exercises. 1,01316 women were made leaders.

Green Campaign: Through SEWA's green campaign, 2108 solar lamps and 1200 stoves were sold. This decreased the consumption of wood and kerosene enabling women to save their time and increase their yearly earning by Rs 3.81 crores.

Water Campaign: Since the last 20 years SEWA has been running its water campaign. So far it has successfully built 4075 rain water harvesting tanks. In 2013, the water collected in these tanks was 9,50,10,000 liters. This directly impacted the employment of women. 1500 women are hand pump repairing technicians. In 2013, 49 women earned Rs 10,55,000. With the help of team SEWA in Dungarpur area of Rajasthan 50 new hand pumps were implanted. Through the same team 50 rain water harvesting tanks were built in Sri Lanka.

SEWA Gram Mahila Haat: Through SEWA Gram Mahila Haat women from Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan received trainings in food processing. SEWA Gram Mahila Haat was conferred with the Scotch Cooperative Leadership Glory Award by the Scotch Group and Golden Jubilee Memorial Smarak Grass Award by the Gujarat Krushi Vigyan Mandal.

Rudi: Sale worth Rs 6,38,15,733 was undertaken through 3000 rudi women across 14 districts of Gujarat. From 15000 small and marginal farmers purchase of Rs 6,19,63,067 was done. 2500 rudi women take orders through mobile phones and earn approximately Rs 5000 to Rs 15000 monthly. 3000 rudi women have earned yearly Rs 63,81,573.

SEWA Unnat Bazaar: In 2013, 49 women received income worth Rs 80 lakh. 225 women were imparted shirt making training enabling them to earn Rs 13,50,000. Total sales registered at Rs 1,95,00000 through which 1767 women earned Rs 82 lakhs.

SEWA Manager ni School: Through SEWA's school 16,67,490 trainees received trainings and 2000 master trainers were prepared. Women from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Bhutan were given Managerial Input yLku Technical training.

Gyan Vigyan Kendra (Knowledge Centres): Through 50 centres 3927 trainings were imparted. These trainings witnessed participation from 65000 women. Income of 28,872 women increased. Through skill development school 25,000 women were imparted training. 170 master trainers were prepared through several agricultural, animal husbandry, salt pan work, construction work and food processing trainings. Currently in every district 60 schools imparting training in agriculture, animal husbandry, stitching and ICT are operational. Through these trainings women are now working in government as well as non government offices. Post trainings over 200 women have initiated their own business. Last year through Gujarat State Agriculture Technology Management Agency two master trainers received awards.

Through SEWA Rural significant work has been undertaken in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. In Afghanistan 3200 women received training of which 80% women earn an income of Rs 8000 to Rs 10,000. With SEWA's efforts Sabah Bagah e-Khazana was formed in Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka: In Sri Lanka with the co-operation of its Government several trainings were imparted to its women in different sectors ranging from food, garments, ICT, rain roof and solar lanterns. 615 women were trained of which 40 women have become master trainers. These women can now earn anywhere from 5000 to 12000 Sri Lankan rupees monthly.

SEWA Bank: The total membership of SEWA Bank is one lakh members. Its share capital is Rs 8 crores, number of accounts 4 lakhs, total deposits 120 crores, working capital Rs 183 crores, 25000 women have taken credit worth Rs 78 crores, SEWA bank has an inbuilt ATM service, 2000 women have joined the ATM service. Through SEWA Bank's ATM card, money can now be withdrawn from ATM's across the world. Speaking of Pension Scheme, 60,000 women have joined the UTI Micro Pension Scheme. This has lead to capital formation of Rs 5.5 crores. SEWA Bank has inaugurated three new branches.

Apart from this, 1000 girls were imparted financial literacy trainings. Under SEWA's credit scheme, housing and vehicle loans are now being provided. Under its Project, solar lights, fans and hand pumps are sold and for this loans are available.

Social Security:

Health Care: Lok Swasthya SEWA Cooperative (LSM), a member-owned state level cooperative enables women workers and their families to have access to life-saving health information, prevent illness, obtain services when required thereby leading healthy and productive lives. This is achieved by providing community-based, preventive and curative health care, in a financially sustainable manner that promotes decision-making and control by women workers of the informal economy. LSM's community health programme supplements, and works in partnership with, the public health system where health needs can be met through public health services.The Health Cooperative (Lok Swasthya Mandali) is working on health-related issues such as ensuring maternity benefits, occupational health benefits and the provision of health education for its members and their community.

The main activities of the health cooperative are;

  • Health Education and Awareness
  • Referral services (curative care)
  • Occupational Health and mental health
  • Health Camps (eye, gynaecological, NCD, general)
  • Low cost medicines and Ayurvedic medicines productions
  • Linkages with government programmes & community based monitoring of these
  • Insurance (RSBY, VimoSEWA)

Through the health education and awareness sessions over 4 lakh members obtained health and nutrition education and information on government health and child care schemes. 277 women, health workers of Lok Swathya health cooperative, obtained income of over Rs 50 lakhs for their health services.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) interventions primarily focus on promoting primary preventive healthcare and enhancing the productivity of women workers in the informal sector with equipment and tools developed ergonomically. Appropriate tools were developed to address the occupational risks of home-based women workers, which included embroidery workers, garment workers, kite workers and agricultural workers particularly, the sugarcane cutters. The tools developed were well received by the workers. Members from across Gujarat purchased 150 chairs (garment workers) and 300 Knives or Koitas (sugarcane cutters).

Since the past several years SEWA health care team has been working with adolescent girls and young women through our local community health workers (sevikabens). The activities and the design of the programme have been made in close coordination and collaboration with the young people themselves. They have played a vital role along with the community to actually reach services to those for whom they are designed.

To advance the reproductive and sexual health of young people, four key strategies were implemented:

  • Community-based education and counselling on reproductive and sexual health for young people.
  • Organising for access to appropriate services.
  • Capacity-building.
  • Policy action based on lessons from our grassroots action.

The team was actively involved in linking our members with various government programmes and schemes like RSBY, ICDS, Chiranjeevi Yojan, Janani Surakkhsa Yojan, Kasturba Poshan Sahay Yojna, etc. The capacity-building of the members of Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees in 172 villages and regular monitoring to ensure efficiency and effectiveness was undertaken. These committees are now actively taking up health activities. Young village leaders supported by us are now serving on these committees.

The cooperative sold Rs 3,11,00,000 worth of low cost medicines from its 3 pharmacies and its own Ayurvedic medicines worth Rs 30,90,000. The cooperatives Ayurvedic production unit was certified as a centre of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The health cooperative - Lok Swasthya Mandali - was conferred the best cooperative award by the Gujarat State Cooperative Association and also by UNICEF as a best practice.

Child Care: The Sangini Cooperative with 628 shareholders is running 26 centres in Ahmedabad city. A total of 833 children are receiving child care services. There has been a commendable increase of 50% in participation by fathers. There has been 30% contribution towards the expenses by local donors. Our child care cooperative received an award from the Gujarat State Cooperative Association Sangh.

The Child Care cooperative was documented as a best practice by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

VimoSEWA: The National VimoSEWA Insurance Cooperative now has over 8000 share-holders from 5 states: Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.This year Rs 1,98,48,115 worth of premium was collected from 92,345 members. 3040 claims were received and Rs 1,39,65,548 were disbursed as claims.

The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, asked VimoSEWA to work in 5 African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. Munich Re Foundation asked VimoSEWA to undertake a study on microinsurance in Asia.

The Social Security Team has also been actively contributing the policy arena:

  • Developing Universal Health Care for India
  • Restructuring and revamping of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
  • Developing an integrated social security package including insurance, pension and maternity benefits.
  • At the national level a Working Group on the Occupational Health and Safety of workers was set up at SEWA's behest by the National Advisory Council. The WG has held three consultation meetings on the subject over the last three months in which several Central Ministries, State Governments, experts, unions, NGOs and academic institutions had participated. Based on these consultations, the Working Group has come up with draft recommendations on the subject. The same have now been uploaded on the NAC website ( for public comments and will be forwarded shortly to the Government of India for implementation.

Mahila Housing Trust: Through Karmika school across three states 450 women were provided construction related trainings. A lot of water and sewage connection work was undertaken. Across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar work was carried out in 206 slums. Work was carried out for 36839 homes enabling 1,47,356 people with basic facilities. Credit facility of up to Rs 88,85,000 was provided to 805 women who wished to avail basic domestic necessities.

For home renovation 42 women were given loans worth Rs 25,40,000. In Madhya Pradesh home electrification was undertaken for 58 houses. The work of energy auditing is undertaken across 4524 houses of Madhya Pradesh. In Surat's Credit Co-operative through 1141 accounts savings worth Rs 39,68,895 was noted. The turnover of this co-operative was registered at Rs 59,43,196. In Vadodara's Credit Co-operative through 1141 accounts savings worth Rs 1,07,18,009 was registered. The turnover of this co-operative was Rs 25,43,642. 120 women received land worth Rs 2,40,00,000. 222 women through government schemes received subsidy worth Rs 1,99,80,000. Under Rajiv Gandhi Scheme, 1,62,093 homes in Ahmedabad and Delhi were surveyed.

SEWA Academy: 356 diverse trainings were undertaken through the year in SEWA Academy. Through which 9199 members received trainings. Through 120 literacy trainings 2411 women became literate. 1179 adolescent girls joined the Aakashganga club of SEWA Academy. Through the use of mobile vans 52 areas covering 5029 spectators where along with awareness generation on various topics information about SEWA was shared.

Research department undertook 8 researches on different subjects and documented three of them. Through the research department 35 trainings were given to 533 women. Photography and training modules were made. SEWA's fortnightly newsletter 'Anasuya' completed 32 years of operation. Anasuya reaches 3000 members. A total of 24 issues were published.

Under Rudi no radio 2614 programs were made. These programs reached 15000 listeners. Through the Video Co-operative 788 video replays reached an audience of 22,837 people, 151 video shootings were done, through 5 replay trainings 128 women were reached, through 4 trainings 107 women received photography trainings. Video co-operative has share capital worth Rs 1,37,700 from 677 members. The library of SEWA Academy has 9137 books.

Federation: There are 105 cooperatives through which 8500 women received employment worth Rs 16,90,0000. Through the Federation in Patan, Himmatnagar and Mehsana 200 fish vending sisters got together and formed the Matsyagandha cooperative. Through EDI a survey on handicraft cooperative was conducted. Planning was undertaken to provide employment to 1200 women. Through 106 trainings 2462 women were imparted trainings. The work of the federation was facilitated by the National Cooperative Union.

SEWA Bharat: SEWA Bharat facilitates the formation of new member organizations across the country and promotes their growth and development. Under which small saving groups were formed. Through this 834 cooperatives came into existence in Delhi, Bihar, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 17386 women were linked with this. Savings worth Rs 5 crores were registered and loans worth Rs 5 crores were given.

Employment through Market Linkages: 1560 women workers of Delhi manufactured goods worth Rs 46,97,278 and earned an income of Rs 25,22,364. In Munger, 1100 women incense stick workers earned income worth Rs 24,60,761. In Bhagalpur women weavers through their co-operative earned Rs 20056. In Uttrakhand, 168 women farmers purchased and sold chilly powder worth Rs 2,16,208. Women of Jodhpur and Murshidabad were trained in the art of embroidery work and linked with the main market.

Health Care: Health check up camps, referral services and special services for tuberculosis were carried out in the states of Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. SEWA health care linked itself with several cleanliness campaigns and undertook spraying of medicines. Specialized work in the field of cataract and its post operation care was undertaken.

Social Security/ Information Centre: Members were linked with several government schemes through the information centre. Total 15710 women were linked with various schemes.

Solar Program: 635 women were linked in Munger district of Bihar for marketing model 'Solar Program' and its installment.

Waste Pickers Cleanliness Campaign: In order to ensure basic facilities and maintain cleanliness in the city and its neighborhood and for a healthier environment 126 Safai Sathis took up cleanliness drive for 4500 homes. Through this work women earn Rs 150 per day.

Through SEWA Bharat several 'Youth Resource Centres' have been initiated across many states of India. These centres impart skills training to the youth. In Madhya Pradesh, cash transfer program was undertaken and its report was represented amidst the Rural Development Minister and Deputy Chair of the Planning Commission. Through the cash transfer program per family Rs 200 and per child Rs 100 was made available.

SEWA Bihar organized Shramik Mohatsav (i.e. workers celebration) where SEWA put forth its request to form Women's Labour Commission to the Chief Minister of Bihar. Under this commission a task forum has been set up which brings out the work and problems of the women. This task forum will present its first report by the month of September.

SEWA National Council has worked continuously towards increasing SEWA membership, organizational strength, committees and strengthening of representatives and leaders. Last year along with the National Trade Union, SEWA joined several campaigns and rally programs.

In SEWA Uttar Pradesh, 5000 construction workers were registered with the construction board. In Assam through rural leaders various trainings were conducted. These trainings linked 1744 women and helped them increase their income by Rs 36000.

Jammu & Kashmir: SEWA initiated efforts to enable the poor and widows to be self reliant by way of providing employment to them. Shehjar community resource centre was set up in June Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir. 2000 women received trainings at this resource centre of which 1500 women earned Rs 45 lakhs.

Awards through the year 2013:

  • Indira Gandhi Peace Prize Conferred on Elaben Bhatt
  • Elaben Bhatt recipient of NDTV Awards for '25 Greatest Global Living Indian Legends'
  • Social Impact Award conferred to SEWA by Times of India
  • Food Security Award to SEWA by FAO
  • India Today Women Summit Award to Renanaben Jhabvala
  • Padmashri Award conferred to Reemaben Nanavati

Resolution on the Home Based Workers
(Unanimously passed on 7th and 8th January 2014 at Annual Convention of SEWA)

Self Employed Women's Association is a National Trade Union of the Women Workers working in the informal economy. Spread over in 13 states the total membership is 19,14,526 . The membership of Home Based Workers is 458402.

Globally, the home based workers constitute 120 million. In India, they account for 3 crores i.e. 30 million. Home Based trades are pre dominated by women comprising of 80%. Amongst all informal trades, home based workers are most poor and vulnerable, daily incomes amounting to Rs 10 (less than 25 cents)to Rs 70 (around 1$ )per day. Being scattered these workers remain invisible. There is no statistics or numerical data available on the quantum of the home based workers. Hence they are not protected under any laws and policies.

There are two types of the home based workers: -

Piece rate workers are mainly those workers who work under employer/contractor on the piece rate basis. For example Beedi Worker gets wages on 1000 beedis made. Under piece rate system, there is a long chain of the contractors. Many times it happens that this chain is at the international level. For example the clothes made /prepared in the poorest areas of Gujarat are sold in New York or London at high prices through the international brands. The piece rate workers are at the end of the chain gets very meager income. At every level some amount of wages are cut and therefore at the end they receive the barest minimum. It is very difficult to establish the "employer- contractor relationship" because of this long chain of production. Due to this complex system, the workers do not get any identity cards, social security benefits or other labour benefits.

Own Account workers are mainly those workers who process the goods and sell it in the open market. The workers are small and petty entrepreneurs like pottery makers. They also face difficulties like access to the markets. They have to sell the products at the reduced rates as the markets are far off. Furthermore they face difficulty in getting raw materials of good quality and credit.

SEWA efforts for the legislation of these home based workers began in 1976 when Elaben Bhatt, Founder of SEWA made attempts to introduce the Bill for protecting the Home Based Workers in Upper House of the Parliament. Thereafter, she took up this issue at the International level in the International Labour Organization which resulted into passing of ILO Convention 177 on Home Work in 1996. SEWA undertook the campaign to ratify this convention in India.

In above respect, we demand that

  • Government of India should ratify the ILO convention on Home Work 177.
  • ITUC should initiate the campaign all over the world to ratify this convention.
  • ITUC and Government should encourage the formation of the Union and Cooperatives of the home based workers

H2 Side Women's Voices on SEWA Micro Finance

SEWA Madhya Pradesh

Since the past four years Basantiben Tejaram age 40 years has been associated with SEWA Madhya Pradesh as its leader. Narrating her life experience she says, 'I was born in a poor family consisting of ten members. I have dealt with severe poverty all through my life. From a very young age my parents who worked as labourers sent me along with my four elder sisters to work. My parents earned Rs 3 per day while we as children earned Rs 1.5 per day in spite of the same amount of labour undertaken. Despite our combined efforts we barely managed to have meals twice a day. On reaching adolescence my parents married me off into another poor family where my husband was the only educated boy. He had to leave his studies to earn enough money to manage our household. Both of us worked as labourers but in spite of our efforts we could not make ends meet.

The next ten years of my life I spent collecting sticks from the forest which were later sold by my in-laws in the village. One day I was fortunate enough to have met a representative of SEWA. She informed me about the work undertaken by SEWA. Majority of the people residing in my village worked as tendu leaf collectors. She briefed us about the importance of having the family information registered in the collection card as well as capturing the correct number of bunches collected. After this incidence SEWA workers started visiting the village regularly and helped form savings group. I enrolled myself with the savings group and started saving one rupee every day. Then came the day when I took a loan of Rs 2000 from the savings group and started my own grocery shop.

Gradually the business picked up. My family appreciated my effort and this proved to be an inspiration to other women of the village. This way 300 women from my village joined SEWA. I received several trainings after being associated with SEWA. I salute SEWA for its enduring efforts for uplifting the lives of women like me. These trainings helped me track down the faulty calculation done by the Forest Department of Karondiya village where in the bonus earned on tendu leaves sold was marginally distributed among 50 families. SEWA representative and I alerted the ranger who took necessary steps and ensured correct disbursal of the funds. This incident created awareness amongst neighbouring villages. Today I proudly represent SEWA and work towards a much bigger cause in life.

SEWA Munger

Shashikalaben is a resident of Munger district in Bihar. She is currently a leading member of SEWA. Her age is approximately around 50 years. She narrates her experience and the benefits of savings group formed by SEWA. As a mother of five children she struggled to raise them single handedly after her husband fell severely ill. In 2003 when illness had grabbed her family she happened to meet few SEWA women. She joined the SEWA organization and helped form the savings group called the Ganga Savings Group. Initially they started by saving Rs 50 per month and gradually went up to Rs 100 monthly. Her daughter too joined the savings group. With the help of loans from the savings group she not only could fund her children's education but also settled them in matrimony. Today she feels respected by her family, friends and relatives and holds a very prestigious place in the society.

SEWA Bikaner

Kamlaben was born in a village named Jaymalsar situated 30 kms from Bikaner. She cites, 'Four years ago I joined SEWA and encouraged women to do the same. After joining SEWA I was inspired to join the savings group and started saving money. After a while I took a loan worth Rs 15000 from the savings group and asked my children to set up a fire cracker shop during the festive season of Diwali. Unfortunately the shop caught fire and all the earnings were burnt to ashes. We did not lose hope and returned the loans in due course. Once again we gathered courage by taking loan from the savings group and set up a compact disc business in our home. Regrettably this business too suffered loss but we managed to return the loan this time as well. Soon thereafter I started the work of stitching and gradually my work increased. In the meantime my children grew older and are now well settled in life. SEWA is not only an organization but a movement in itself. SEWA is equipped with a person like Elaben who comprises of tremendous thinking power and I am grateful to be a part of it.'

SEWA Dehradun

Parvatiben was born in a very poor family consisting of six children. Her father was a construction worker. At the age of 14 years she lost her mother. Her father left all the siblings in the village with their grandmother. Her grandmother married her off to a man twenty years older to her. She then shifted with her husband to Dehradun. By the time she had two sons her husband lost his job and was in weak health. She had to fend for herself and her family. To run her household she took a look worth Rs 6000 from the moneylender. Since both husband and wife were uneducated the moneylender took advantage of the situation and prepared a false document and took their thumb prints on it. After a while the moneylender threatened to confisticate their home. Parvatiben informed women in her neighbourhood about the situation. Some of these women were associated with SEWA and encouraged her to join SEWA's saving group. She reluctantly joined SEWA but after saving for six months she gained the courage to face the moneylender and demand for the document. SEWA sisters forced the moneylender to return the document and proved victorious in doing so.

Since then Parvatiben made several visits to the SEWA office. With SEWA's efforts she learned how to read and write in Hindi. Recently she borrowed a loan from the savings group to get her son enrolled in an English medium school. She acquired a job as a hostel supervisor and now she earns Rs 5000 per month. She is now happily living with her family.

H2 Side His kind and caring face is unforgettable: Elaben Bhatt

I am deeply saddened by the death of Nelson Mandela. In paying tribute, I join millions of people around the world who were inspired by his courage and touched by his compassion. All will mourn his passing.

Mandela - or Madiba as he is known in South Africa - called us, the Elders, together in 2007, urging us to be bold, independent and to speak the truth. He told us to work in the interests of peace for all humanity. The world has lost a great leader. Madiba showed the people of the world that great nations are built with moral courage and collective strength, with truth and reconciliation, with love and forgiveness. He was indeed the Gandhi of South Africa. His spirit lives on in the people of South Africa and in the hearts of all who loved him.

I last offered my regards to Madiba when I went to attend The Elders meet in Cape Town in October last year. For me, his face is difficult to forget, so kind and so caring! It was his message of 'Ubuntu' meaning 'common humanity' that drew me to him and to the Elders. We can do no better than honour his memory by bringing the spirit of Ubuntu to every corner of the world.

Madiba always loved the khadi garland I put around his neck. I will not forget the words Madiba said to us frequently that "money won't create success, but the freedom to make it, will."

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